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Why MBA: ESSEC Business School — France

Former financier follows luxury brand management dream with MBA

Sienna Liang took an MBA in international luxury brand management at ESSEC Business School to aid her transition from the financial to the luxury sector.

Sienna left her home in China alone at the age of sixteen and moved to study in the UK. After gaining a BA in economics from the University of Manchester and a masters in international health management from Imperial College London, she joined Deloitte as a tax consultant before working her way up to assistant manager in the global trade and customs group.

Driven by a passion for jewelry and gemstones, Sienna decided to leave a good position at Deloitte for the front-line of the luxury industry in London; working on the shop floors of Louis Vuitton and CHANEL before moving to France to study at ESSEC.

Since completing her MBA, Sienna has relocated to Dubai, working as boutique manager at Piaget, a Swiss luxury watchmakers and jewelers.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

After starting my career in finance, I moved to work on the front-line in luxury retail. I was determined to pursue an MBA to take my career in the luxury industry to the next level.

Why did you choose to study at ESSEC in particular?

The ESSEC MBA in luxury brand management has many facets which make it stand out. It shines like a diamond alongside other luxury MBA courses.

I was attracted by ESSEC’s extensive network of alumni and the close relationships it has with leading luxury houses.

I really valued the fieldtrip opportunities it offered; to be able to travel to Hong Kong, Dubai and Milan to gain a more in depth understanding of the luxury industry and network with leading executives.

What was the hardest thing about the MBA application process?

Striking a balance between getting a great result in GMAT while delivering a strong performance at work at the same time.

How have you profited from your experience studying for an MBA?

The MBA has provided me with a great overall picture of how the luxury industry is connected together.

I have learnt the key knowledge in various sectors in the luxury industry; not only jewelry & watches, but also fashion & accessories, beauty & fragrances, wine & spirits and hospitality.

I have also learnt from all my classmates who came from different countries and professional backgrounds. Diversity and different perspectives always brings fun to the classroom.

How does your experience living and working in the Middle East compare with that in Europe?

Both the Middle East and Europe have their own specific cultures, one being more conservative and traditional while the other more free-spirited. However, at the end of the day, clients from all over the world want the same things: first class customer service and an exceptional client experience. 

What are the main challenges you face working in the luxury sector at the moment?

It’s a challenge to ensure a consistent brand image worldwide while continuing to surprise luxury clients.

There’s also the challenge of how to combine digital technology with the traditional brick and mortar business model in order to enhance the overall client experience and win new clients.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to polish my knowledge of gemstones further by specializing in the high jewelry segment. I want to make a strong contribution to a leading international luxury house; to win over the X and Y generations while keeping the fire going with the baby boomers!

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